MTV, the Music Television network, first came on the scene in 1981. It became an international hotspot for the latest music and up-and-coming artists, giving a whole new meaning to the term “music video.” MTV became an instant cultural phenomenon, a force that has revolutionized the world of music, fashion and movies for the past 30 years.
MTV began as the first 24 hour music channel premiering iconic videos like Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Nirvana’s award-winning MTV Unplugged performance. These moments brought the youth of America together to enjoy some of the best music of our time that spanned all genres.
In the past, MTV gave new artists a platform to showcase their music and secure a fan base with shows such as TRL and MTV’s Unplugged, which would bring artists on to talk about their music and collaborations as well as give exclusive performances. These shows gave new artists much-needed opportunities and exposure, and it gave well-known artists a whole new way to connect with fans. It was a massive win for the world of music.
However, in the past 15 years, MTV has completely shifted the network’s focus away from music. A channel that used to be so unique, which celebrated something so universal and unifying is now a constant barrage of reality shows – no music videos in sight. When MTV canceled music-centric shows and focused more on the drama surrounding the casts of corny reality shows, it lost much of the allure that made it so popular with young people. The network became generic and predictable, causing people to quickly lose interest.
Tonight’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) continue a tradition launched by MTV in 1984. Over the years, however, MTV and society as a whole have shifted the focus of the VMAs away from the music itself, enticing fewer people to tune in to the ceremony. The VMAs have become less about talented musicians putting on killer performances and more about celebrity feuds and outrageous red carpet outfits. As a millennial and lover of all things music, I grew up watching MTV. It’s disappointing to see such a lack of music itself on a network that once was the only place to go for the latest music videos.
I believe that in this crucial day and age, MTV is really missing the chance to connect and bring people together. In a time of so much noise and negativity, it would be great to have the old MTV back. Music is so important and therapeutic for today’s youth; it’s about time we go back to it.
Now more than ever, we should get back to celebrating the art and diversity of our music culture. MTV is failing today’s youth with its new direction and completely missing the mark on what young people and aspiring artists need right now.
Nicole Macias is a sophomore majoring in English.
Featured photo courtesy Pexels user Josh Sorenson.